From late June to early July, Cook Forest’s rhododendron and mountain laurel bloom a spectacular display for summer travelers.
The slightly pink and white clumps of flowers are visible along River Road, a meandering road that follows the Clarion River upstream for miles. Our favorite way to enjoy this roadside display is by bicycle. Plan on bringing your own bike and venture out early in the morning to experience the most peaceful ride.
Another great location is near Cook Forest’s fire tower. Take Firetower Road from Route 36, across from Ridge Campground. Travel down the road until you reach visitor parking and walk uphill to see the large thickets. For the ambitious hiker, start at Gateway Lodge’s property and walk to the Cooksburg Bridge. Just past the Cooksburg Bridge on the left, you will see the Seneca trailhead. Hike uphill until you reach the blooming thickets, then finish with a hike up the firetower.
After smelling the sweet smells of laurel blooms, honor the day with a bottle of local wine from Laurel Mountain Winery, found on Gateway Lodge’s wine list.